84% of pet guardians refer to themselves as their pet’s “mom or dad,” demonstrating that the deeper the emotional bond, the more intense the grief reaction. Given the strong emotional ties, extending hospice care to terminally ill pets and their families is appropriate and necessary. If hospice care is possible for people, why not our pets?
While the concept of hospice care for humans has existed for decades and is an integral part of the dying process, providing care for caregivers of companion animals is equally as important.
The term “hospice” has been used since medieval times when hospice was an actual place of lodging where weary travellers could find shelter and respite from their journey.
Built upon the philosophy that death is a part of life, pet hospice addresses:
- Pain Control
- Educational Resources
- Emotional support for the families
- Assistance with the transition between treatment and passing.
- Animal hospice is palliative veterinary care, focused on the needs of the patient and family, on living life as fully and comfortably as possible until the time of death, and on attaining a degree of preparation for death.
- Animal hospice is when the focus moves from CURING to CARING.
- Emotional pain doesn’t equal a “weak” person; it takes immense strength to seek help. Pet hospice allows the guardian the opportunity to receive ongoing support and encouragement to get the help they need.
In the end, what many people these days experience is a relationship with their pet, not ownership. Therefore, we must make it OK for pet families to feel what they are feeling, to allow them the opportunity to receive ongoing support and encourage them to reach out when the pain becomes overwhelming. Because experiencing emotional pain doesn’t make someone weak; instead, reaching out makes them stronger.
Who is your animal hospice team? This may include the following:
- Veterinary technicians
- Veterinary assistants
- Rehabilitation practitioners
- Animal massage therapists
- Holistic veterinarians
- Reiki therapists
- Pet communicators
- Social workers
- Pet loss support groups
- Animal rescue groups (donations of unused pet supplies)